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‘Jessica Dettmann is a fine comic writer. She has an eye for the small details, irritations and inspirations of life which coupled with a truly original turn of phrase and great way with a gag makes for sparkling and heartwarming reading.’

Ben Elton


‘A totally engaging and disarmingly charming writer’

Kathy Lette




‘Brilliantly observed, Jessica Dettmann’s portrayal of messy, modern family life is packed with delicious humour and balanced with moments of real poignancy. Her knack for writing sharp, witty dialogue makes for a hugely entertaining read. I adored it.’

Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village


‘With humour and heart, Dettmann weaves an unforgettable tale about the lives we choose, and the lives that choose us. Dettmann nails the funny, sad and bizarre nuances of family life in this gripping novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes. I expect to see this everywhere this summer.’

Sally Hepworth, author of The Mother-in-Law


‘Put this one on your summer beach read list! This second book by Jessica Dettmann doesn’t disappoint. Set in Sydney’s Northern Beaches suburbia, it’s filled with relatable family quirks, and touches on the many different dynamics that come with blended and extended families. This book is filled with humour, wit and charm. Loved it! For fans of Jojo Moyes, Marian Keyes, Sally Hepworth, Josie Silver and Beth O’Leary’

Mia, Novella Fine Books, Wahroonga


‘How To Be Second Best is a chatty sort of burlesque on the rom-com – with targets drawn from the rigours of the publishing world, as well as the competitiveness and continuing gender inequities of modern parenthood. It's a diverting comic novel that bubbles along, buoyed by the author's dry, conspiratorial feminist wit.’

Cameron Woodhead, Sydney Morning Herald / Canberra Times


‘Blends the family drama of Liane Moriarty with the humour of Sophie Kinsella … Light-hearted and playful on the surface, this is a skilful novel about loss, resilience and the parental struggle to do the best for one’s children … tightly paced plot … How to Be Second Best combines Liane Moriarty’s family-centric suburban drama with the comedy of Sophie Kinsella, building from Emma’s burgeoning crisis to a warm, rich ending.’

Newtown Review of Books


‘Hilarious [and] heartwarming tale … Part Marian Keyes page-turner, part Holly Wainwright local brilliance, this book is all too relatable for those who have found themselves at the supermarket or school drop-off wondering why they can’t quite get it together. Ultimate summer read’

Herald Sun


‘Heartwarming yet biting’

Sunday Telegraph

‘Full of funny moments, this debut takes a wry look at parenthood, divorce and the messy reality of blended families. ****’

Who Weekly

‘Sharp and witty. I would LOVE to have Emma as a best friend and share a bottle of wine with her, even though at times, I very much wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her. An absolutely delightful, funny and touching read.’

Nicola Moriarty



‘A warm and witty novel [filled with] deliciously cringy comedic moments’

Kathy Lette


‘Sharp and crisp and funny. I was dazzled.’

Mia Freedman

How to Be Second Best is a great beach read. Dettmann has hilariously captured the craziness and competitiveness of modern suburban parenthood, which is often made more difficult with mixed families. The characters were incredibly well-written and I love the concept of teaching yourself how to be second best in a world where everything seems to be a competition.’ 


How To Be Second Best by Jessica Dettmann is a hilarious novel about the roles we play, the strange ways that we compete with one another, and what happens when we dare to be less than perfect. It’s a refreshing and honest depiction of the delirium of modern family life, its challenges and triumphs.

Jessica has a natural knack for humour – the book will have you chuckling and snorting from the very first page with its subtle sarcasm and sharp observations. Whilst this novel is undeniably laugh-out-loud funny, it is also incredibly heartwarming and real, shining a light on the experiences of modern day womanhood and motherhood – the expectations that are forced upon us, and the pressures that weigh us down. It is a book about self-discovery and self-love, about learning to value your own happiness and put yourself first in a world that demands you give so much of yourself away, day in and out.

If you’re looking for a book that will not only hurt your cheeks but also tug at your heartstrings, then How To Be Second Best should be your next pick. Unlike the men in this book, we promise it won’t let you down!’

Better Reading

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